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Drilling down on: at Sporting KC 0, Houston 0

Houston Dynamo v Sporting Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 7: Brad Davis #11 of the Houston Dynamo passes the ball against Roger Espinoza #15 of the Sporting Kansas City in the first half at Livestrong Sporting Park on July 7, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: Jermaine Taylor is filling in for Geoff Cameron as Houston’s left center back and making the position his own. Hard to say what’s happening with Cameron, but Taylor’s good timing in the tackle, his ability to help Corey Ashe contain Kei Kamara and his general work has been a calming balm lately. It was in this one.

Packaged for take-away:

  • The quality wasn’t bad at Livestrong Sporting Park, but the game was very tactical and therefore not always the most entertaining. Not bad, but less than pulsating.
  • Both teams played in a 4-3-3; I’ll look in another post at the tactical differences in the way the teams run their systems.
  • The Dynamo just doesn’t have the same variety or range of options out of the back when Geoff Cameron isn’t manning one of the center back spots; his long balls out of defense generally find or get close to their targets.
  • Cameron wasn’t even on the bench Saturday. The team listed a hamstring issue, but it’s hard not to speculate that Cameron’s absence isn’t more about his potential move to England.
  • New man Oscar Boniek Garcia got behind the SKC defense twice in the first 15 minutes, once along the wing to supply a ball across goal and once in alone on Jimmy Nielsen, who saved athletically. The slight Honduran is a technically gifted type who will be increasingly effective on the right wing for Houston.
  • Dealing with Boniek Garcia kept Sporting Kansas City left back Seth Sinovic from being much of a factor on the home team’s attack.
  • Boniek Garcia would be even more effective if the Orange had a better “quarterback” for the offense. Luis Camargo, the highest midfielder in the Dynamo’s triangle, just isn’t creative enough, not good enough at placing penetrating balls.
  • Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall was off his line aggressively, collecting crosses, throw-ins and free kicks.
  • The game’s first 30 minutes were dominated by center backs on both sides so far. Taylor and Aurelien Collin were especially effective for their teams.
  • Jacob Peterson, still starting on the left for the injured Bobby Convey, had a good night. He wasn’t as active or bothersome as busy-bee Kei Kamara on the other side, but Peter did supply some nice moments, like creating a shot off the dribble that he lashed off the bottom of the post. The inside of the post, even.
  • Kamara on the right for Kansas City was such a mismatch for the much-smaller Corey Ashe; Ashe had trouble keeping up all night.
  • Referee Chris Penso did well in this one, calmly managing a match between two physical teams.
  • Once again, we see Sporting Kansas City applying plenty of offensive pressure and taking its share of shots, but failing to get enough on target. Final tally: 17 shots for SKC, just four on target. And Hall was never really tested.
  • Houston is still bringing Brian Ching off the bench (in the 67th Saturday); that’s quite an option to have. A minute later, Teal Bunbury replaced C.J. Sapong at center forward for the home team. Same deal, quite an option.
  • Brad Davis was very quiet for Houston. A lot of that is about the roles in midfield and Houston’s lack of familiarity with the new 4-3-3 look. It was also because he never had an opportunity to connect with one of his signature corner kicks; the Dynamo didn’t create enough offensively to win one through the entire night.
  • By contrast, Roger Espinoza was all over the place in Sporting Kansas City’s midfield, on btoh sides of the ball.
  • Houston hasn’t won on the road since March, but they’ll probably be OK with the point in this one.
  • Sporting Kansas City is 3-5-3 over its last 11.